EP of the Week: Dim Past's Black Dolphin

Our Miami correspondent on an incendiary EP of Florida power electronics, premiering here

Dim Past_02_by_Monica Uszerowicz

Are you a bright-eyed, candy-raving futurist who thinks that technology, free information, and good vibes/intentions are all that’s needed to create a happy little utopic place on our planet? Is Electronic Dance Music your sonic experience of choice because it captures your molly-induced optimism that the Singularity will save humanity, which you will then duly re-blog about? Rest assured then: you will be dead in the water. 

And you clearly don’t know shit about Florida. 

Dim Past, who’s just released a debut EP titled Black Dolphin on local labels Other Electricities and Roofless Records, has been secretively crafting organic, computer-less electronic music here in Miami for about two years. In that short time, he’s well down a path towards his stated goal of making techno a threat again. 

The record, like Dim Past’s already expansive, yet-to-be-released oeuvre, is created live and without the aid and ease of software. The darkly ululating synths, mind-bending voices, and pitch-perfect drums are combined to create an electronica that seamlessly moves from menace to tenderness (and back again). 

The opening track, “Ghostlord Masterclock”, starts with an animalistic squishing and scratching that’s punctuated by a cymbal hit that sounds like the unsheathing of a sword. It then breaks out into a soundtrack for a wildly fucked up rave in the Everglades. 

“Spectre in Wire” comes next, flowing to a steady house beat and utilizing heavy delay and crystalline noise to develop a mesmerizing and heartrending melody. “Nightshade,” arguably the standout track on the EP, summarizes the Dim Past ethos with a deeply shaking bass, dry clap, and chopped and twisted vocal sample, devolving into an elegiac piano riff by the controversial black metal act Burzum. It realizes the ambition of creating danceable confrontations that are internationally sourced yet rooted in a Southern sensibility. 

The textures and hooks of the EP reflect the history and spaces of the electronica genre – from its inauspicious start in Detroit basements, to the high sound art techno of contemporary European acts, to the pulse-accelerating tempos of Chicago’s ghetto house music. But rather than worshipping and emulating these styles and sites, Dim Past draws from muddied culture pits, sampling the occult howlings and noir bangs that hang in the humid airs of our so-called “Magic City.” 

Brad Lovett, the towering, red-dreaded artist behind these haunting sonic tapestries, has worked a day job amongst the river grasses and slashpines of the Florida swamp for the past five years. He’s seen the weird things that people do in these marshy hinterlands, and the secrets that the bogs thus hold. His debut EP, which was mixed and mastered by Adames and is being released on a 12” vinyl record, channels this personal experience and energy, and is a testament to the importance of place – no matter technology’s blurring of certain borders. 

In its Greek origins, techno combines the forms meaning “art” and “skill.” With Black Dolphin, Dim Past has started a reclaiming of the genre from plastic automation and soulless programming, employing “occult circuitries” and an obsessive mastery to rescue you from your docile, optimistic worldview. It’ll also force you to dance as you reckon with your pitiful, inevitable drowning.

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